The middleweight division is about to get a lot more interesting.
Of course, the 160 pound weight class has often been one of the most noteworthy and exciting weight classes in all of boxing, going back the very beginnings of boxing history. In recent years, with fighters such as Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Jermall Charlo, David Lemieux, and Billie Joe Saunders populating the weight class, the middleweight division has continued a long tradition of delivering some of the biggest and best fights we have seen in the sport.
Enter Jaime Munguia.
The six foot one, twenty-three year old WBO junior middleweight champion from Tijuana, Mexico will begin a permanent move up to the middleweight division this Saturday night, facing tough and experienced Irish middleweight Spike O’Sullivan at San Antonio’s Alamodome, where Munguia’s promoters at Golden Boy Promotions hope to continue to build him into the next Mexican box office star. The fight will headline for the first card of the year on the streaming service DAZN, which is kicking off its second full year in the boxing business.
The move up in weight has been long prophesied for Munguia, as he is taller than most of the major middleweights in the world and given he won the 154 pound title when he was just twenty-one years old, it was clear that he would have the ability to move up multiple weight classes. Add to the fact that Munguia seems to have been bursting at the seems to make the 154 pound weight limit, which was perhaps most on display last April, when Munguia struggled to a decision against unheralded Irishman Dennis Hogan, who in the eyes of many thoroughly outboxed the younger champion who looked to be stuck in the mud for many of the rounds.
The Hogan fight is the lone blemish on what has been a remarkable career so for Munguia (34-0, 27 KOs), who turned pro in his hometown of Tijuana when he was just sixteen years old. Eighteen months ago, when Canelo Alvarez flunked a drug test and was pulled out of a second fight with Gennady Golovkin May 2018, Munguia was for a moment, the top candidate to replace him. But the Nevada State Athletic Commission didn’t believe Munguia had an enough experience, so he was denied the fight, which went to Vanes Martoyisan. (He lasted two rounds)
Instead, one week later, Munguia was the late replacement against the much smaller Sadam Ali for the WBO 154 pound crown and Munguia seized the title with a breathtaking four round, four knockdown performance. A mere eight weeks later, Munguia outworked and outpunched the more experienced Brit Liam Smith in his first title defense and then destroyed overmatched Canadian Brandon Cook seven weeks after that.
Munguia did have some trouble with ultra-tough Japanese fighter Takeshi Inoue, whom he hit with everything but the kitchen sink but was unable to put away, which came several months before the near disaster against Dennis Hogan. Munguia responded by taking more time off than usual and adding Mexican legend and fellow Tijuanan Erik Morales as his new trainer, replacing the thought to be behind the times Roberto Alcazar, who many believed wasn’t training Munguia to be the pressure fighting, bodypuncher destroyer than he is, but rather some new age Oscar De La Hoya, moving and chasing too much.
In their first fight together last October, Munguia got back on track, getting off to a slow start before blowing away Ghanaian Patrick Allotey in four rounds. After a slow first round, Morales demanded more pressure and Munguia turned it up, dropping Allotey twice in the third round before putting the finishing touches in the fourth. It looked like the best of Munguia, pressure, hard punches to the body and precise combinations, everything his backers wanted to see.
Munguia’s first fight at middleweight should be a tough one. Spike O’Sullivan was also a candidate to replace Canelo in May 2018, as he was in the midst of an excellent six fight winning streak. That was sadly for O’Sullivan halted when he destroyed by big punching French Canadian David Lemieux in one round on the undercard of Canelo-GGG 2 in September 2018, but he has rebounded with two wins since. What makes O’Sullivan so dangerous is that he can both box and move as well as come forward, meaning he can adapt to what his opponent does.
The good thing for Munguia is that O’Sullivan’s three losses have all come against his best competition-Lemieux, Billie Joe Saunders, and former middleweight titlist Chris Eubank. Also, while O’Sullivan can box a little bit, he prefers to come at you and brawl, which is exactly what Munguia wants. If the young Mexican can draw the Irishman into that kind of fight, which he himself thrives in, his first foray into the middleweight division should be a successful one.
It’s hugely important fight for Jaime Munguia, if anything because he has built expectations with his own tremendous performances. Not only does he win, he wins fighting like the quintessential Mexican fighter-coming forward and throwing hellacious hooks to the body and head. With Canelo Alvarez becoming the world’s boxer and less Mexico’s boxer, there is place for Munguia to become a huge superstar. And with their seeming to be growing strife between Canelo and Golden Boy Promotions, having a new star to get behind in Munguia looks to be essential for Oscar De La Hoya in company.
But first, he’s gotta win this Saturday…